Rick Windham Outdoors Columnist
With recent temperatures in the 90s and 100s, it’s hard to consider squirrel hunting a fall season, but it is by definition.
Nebraska squirrel season begins Monday and lasts through January 31, 2023. Squirrels may not be “big game,” but they sure can be fun to hunt. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. I like to hunt early in the season to beat the heat. The daily bag limit is seven and you can have up to 28 in possession.
While squirrels aren’t considered big game, why is it that when you’re standing quietly in the wood and hear something running through the leaves, you naturally think “bear”? Rogue squirrels can do that to you.
At this time, the squirrels concentrate on eating and storing food for the winter. There aren’t many squirrels here on the prairie because for most of the history of the plains there were no trees. All the squirrels you find are immigrants and transplants and most are within the city limits where you can’t hunt. Getting out of the city and exploring is essential. I do my scouting looking for where the squirrels feed. Trees that have some kind of mast crop and cornfields are good places to start looking.
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When I find an active feeding spot that’s near some wood, the second part of my scouting efforts kicks into gear. I like to stalk slowly through the wood listening to the squirrels. Squirrels make a surprising amount of noise, if you know what to listen for. They chat a lot and their hops on the ground sound like a large animal walking.
As soon as I hear the squirrels, I carefully approach and find a place to sit and watch for a while. If you stay still, the squirrels will eventually ignore you and go about their business and you can learn their patterns. Don’t just look up in the trees. Squirrels begin to spend more time on the ground when they begin to store food for the winter.
You may use any legal weapon defined by the Nebraska Park and Game Commission for hunting squirrels. It is really a matter of personal choice. I have always preferred hunting squirrels with .22 caliber firearms. I used rifles for years and then switched to pistols about 25 years ago to add a little more challenge to the hunt. For the past 15 years, I have hunted squirrels with high powered airguns.
One of my favorite techniques for early season squirrels requires a pair of hunters to move through the wood in a coordinated fashion. As the hunters move forward, they slowly spread apart, about 10 to 15 meters apart. Then one hunter slowly advances while the other hunter stands still.
The squirrels will connect with the moving figure. A squirrel’s tendency is to stay out of the way, so as a hunter moves forward, the squirrel moves around the tree to stay out of sight. Very often the hunter standing still will be able to see this and can make an accurate shot while the squirrel focuses on the moving hunter. I have taken many squirrels this way.
My next favorite way to hunt squirrels is to completely camouflage myself and sneak into a spot where squirrels are active before sunrise. Then I take cover, and I literally mean cover. I will lie down on the forest floor and cover myself with leaves that have fallen to the ground.
When the squirrels go out to start their day, I can take a few photos before they even realize what’s going on. Using an air rifle in this situation can be a great advantage.
Because an airgun is quieter, it takes longer for squirrels to realize there’s a threat lurking under the leaves.
If you are a squirrel hunter, good luck!
North Platte Cub Scout Pack 293 will host a Splash into Scouting event from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday at Centennial Park. All children from kindergarten through fifth grade are invited.
This gathering will include special games for children to participate in, including a “Dunk the Cub Master” event, and a free lunch will be served, sponsored by the Nebraska Land Bank.
All kids who sign up to become scouts will have their names entered into a drawing for a lifetime fishing permit. Julie Geiser from the Nebraska Park and Game Commission will be available to answer questions. There will also be a Scout Master available to answer any questions she may have about Scouting.
The Lincoln County Wildlife Gun Club recently finished a high school cheat league. There were 20 shooters who finished the 200 rock program that lasted several weeks.
- Zoch Smith with 179/200.
- Kadan Wright with 176/200.
- Braidyn Boggs with 166/200.
- Sydney Galaway with 164/200.
Congratulations to these young shooters.